Our View: Don’t break the bank

DKS Editors

Any students with classes in Van Deusen Hall or the Art Building know firsthand the unsavory condition of those two buildings. The verging-on-decrepit buildings can’t keep pace with technological advances.

But Kent State is aiming to fix that with the help of the economy’s current low interest rates. University officials hope to issue $175 million worth of bonds to finance a major overhaul of campus. A study last spring indicated the university needs $353 million of work across its eight campuses.

Let’s put that chunk of change into perspective: Oscar Ritchie Hall renovations cost more than $11 million. Franklin Hall renovations costs exceeded $21 million. And the new Roe Green Center will likely cost more than $13 million upon its completion.

Those figures pale in comparison to the $175 million the university seeks. Kent State hasn’t undergone much of a facelift since the 1960s – and it’s obvious. We have a beautiful campus and some state-of-the-art buildings, but others that need more than a good dusting off. Several buildings even demand internal repairs, such as heating and cooling system upgrades.

And for a school that is boosting its image nationwide, the timing is right for a major overhaul. The question is, can we pull it off financially?

Our archenemy down the street already made a similar investment. The University of Akron spent $385 million adding 18 buildings and $84 million renovating 25 existing buildings in the past decade.

Their efforts succeeded. We don’t often praise Akron, but anyone who visits that campus would be hard-pressed not to notice the impressive buildings wedged in downtown Akron. Whether Akron has repaid those bonds is another matter.

And that’s where we hope Kent State officials go the extra mile. We can’t fathom $175 million. Renovations at Kent State campuses stand to entice students to come here, but those extra tuition dollars won’t repay the bonds.

The university would receive full payment for the bonds up front and repay them, plus interest, over time, which is typically 10 to 30 years.

Where is the university getting the money to repay them? Kent State prides itself on being one of the most financially stable universities in the state. Given the unpredictability of the state budget, we hope administrators proceed cautiously and put the best plan forward to the Board of Trustees.

We’re just bummed most current students won’t be here to see the results.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater’s editorial board.